Federal

Spellings to Expand Pilot Test Reversing Order of NCLB Sanctions

By Michelle R. Davis, Christina A. Samuels & Erik W. Robelen — May 18, 2006 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has announced plans to expand a pilot initiative under which school districts may reverse the order of key consequences for schools’ low performance under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The news comes in a May 15 letter to chief state school officers that also warns that the Department of Education is prepared to take “significant enforcement action” against states and districts that fail to meet the federal law’s school choice and supplemental-services requirements, including the possibility of withholding some federal funds.

The secretary drew attention to the letter in a May 17 meeting with reporters, in which she also discussed two other significant developments involving the No Child Left Behind Act. One was the selection of two states for a “growth model” pilot for testing an alternative way of meeting the law’s accountability requirements on student progress. The other was a decision on accountability for several states with large numbers of students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last fall.

On the choice and supplemental-services issue, Secretary Spellings noted in her letter to the state chiefs that recent federal audits revealed a range of shortcomings with how states and districts were carrying out the law’s mandates.

The department is currently testing the idea of reversing the order of the choice and tutoring sanctions in a smaller pilot project in four districts in Virginia. The normal order calls for districts to offer school choice first, in the form of allowing students in lagging schools to transfer to higher-performing public schools, and only later to give students access to supplemental services, such as tutoring. Even many supporters of the No Child Left Behind law have called that order illogical.

Ms. Spellings said that the “positive results” in the Virginia pilot provide evidence that offering the flexibility on a broader scale is warranted. She said that any state that meets certain eligibility criteria may request that up to seven of its school systems—of which two should be rural—receive the new flexibility.

The idea is that districts that fail to make adequate yearly progress, or AYP, under the federal law for two consecutive years could offer supplemental educational services instead of public school choice to students. The law says that the choice option must come at that point, and that after a third year of missing performance targets, the district also must offer a choice of supplemental services, including from private providers.

“If we get kids help first before the public-school-choice thing,” that “makes sense to me,” Ms. Spellings said in the session with reporters. “Let’s do stuff that works better.”

Growth-Model Pilot

Meanwhile, the department announced May 17 that North Carolina and Tennessee were the first states chosen for a pilot program that will allow them to measure AYP under the No Child Left Behind law based on the academic growth that students show from year to year.

Secretary Spellings had announced in November that as many as 10 states would be selected for the “growth model” pilot program.

Twenty states applied, and proposals from eight states were forwarded to a panel of reviewers appointed by the department. In a conference call Wednesday, Eric Hanushek, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the head of the review panel, said both models chosen were well designed and offered different approaches for meeting the federal law’s goal of full student proficiency by the 2013-14 school year.

Of the eight states reviewed by the panel, the six states not approved—Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, and Oregon—have a chance to digest comments from the review panel and resubmit their applications in September for the 2006-07 school year. Also, in November, other states will have a chance to submit their own growth-model proposals for whatever slots remain.

Under current NCLB rules, schools and districts must meet annual targets for the percentage of students who score at least at the proficient level on state tests. The student population as a whole must be measured, as well as certain subgroups of students, such as students with disabilities, members of racial and ethnic minorities, and students with limited English skills.

In the growth-model pilot, schools may be able to make AYP even if their students do not meet the targets, if the schools can show that the students have made a certain amount of progress over the course of the year.

Hurricane Relief

Secretary Spellings also announced that six states that have taken in large numbers of students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita would not be penalized for this school year if those students do not make adequate yearly progress.

The states—Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas—will still have to test displaced students in reading and mathematics as required under the federal law. Schools will also be held to required test-participation rates for those students.

The department had earlier determined that hurricane-displaced students would count as their own subgroup under NCLB. Ms. Spellings said on May 17 that if it is that subgroup that would lead to the labeling of a school or district as being “in need of improvement,” the federal Education Department will allow sanctions to be delayed.

Mississippi, according to federal officials, did not request the AYP relief for displaced students.

Ms. Spellings said it seemed to be common sense to allow such states one year of respite from NCLB sanctions for hurricane-displaced students.

In those states “that have large numbers of students who missed as much as six or eight weeks of school in some cases, obviously [there was] a lack of curriculum alignment” between schools, Ms. Spellings said.

Events

Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion 'Jargon' and 'Fads': Departing IES Chief on State of Ed. Research
Better writing, timelier publication, and more focused research centers can help improve the field, Mark Schneider says.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Electric School Buses Get a Boost From New State and Federal Policies
New federal standards for emissions could accelerate the push to produce buses that run on clean energy.
3 min read
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet reduces over 120,000 pounds of carbon emissions and leverages The Mobility House's smart charging and energy management system.
A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency sets higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. By 2032, it projects, 40 percent of new medium heavy-duty vehicles, including school buses, will be electric.
Business Wire via AP
Federal What Would Happen to K-12 in a 2nd Trump Term? A Detailed Policy Agenda Offers Clues
A conservative policy agenda could offer the clearest view yet of K-12 education in a second Trump term.
8 min read
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. Allies of the former president have assembled a detailed policy agenda for every corner of the federal government with the idea that it would be ready for a conservative president to use at the start of a new term next year.
Mike Stewart/AP
Federal Opinion Student Literacy Rates Are Concerning. How Can We Turn This Around?
The ranking Republican senator on the education committee wants to hear from educators and families about making improvements.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty